The Atlantic Coastal Cooperative Statistics Program (ACCSP) is the principal source of dependable and timely marine fishery statistics for Atlantic coast fisheries

 

Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC)

The mission of ASMFC is to promote the better utilization of the fisheries, marine, shell and anadromous, of the Atlantic seaboard by the development of a joint program for the promotion and protection of such fisheries, and by the prevention of physical waste of the fisheries from any cause.

Abbreviation: 
ASMFC
Table Head line: 
Location and Contact Information
Address: 
  • 1050 N. Highland Street
  • Suite 200A-N
  • Arlington, VA 22201
Phone / Fax: 
  • 703.842.0740
Email: 
info@asmfc.org
Website: 
www.asmfc.org/
Head Line2: 
Featured On-the-Ground Project
content2: 

Observer Program for Small Mesh Otter Trawl Fishery in the Mid-Atlantic (New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia) and Rhode Island

The ASMFC through its Management and Science Committee and Interstate Fisheries Management Program (ISFMP) Policy Board developed a list of coastwide critical research priorities identifying the need for at-sea observer data on discards, age/length samples, and catch/effort data. In addition, a recurring high priority recommendation from stock assessments and FMPs for several species managed by the ASMFC is to increase at-sea observer coverage to obtain commercial discard and associated biological data. This project was created to address these issues and collect biological and discard data for commercially and recreationally important species from the small mesh otter trawl fisheries in the Mid-Atlantic region (New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia) and Rhode Island using at-sea observers. 

This ongoing project has been supported by ACCSP since 2011. Because many of the primary species taken in small-mesh trawl fisheries are co-managed by ASMFC and MAFMC (i.e., black sea bass, scup, summer flounder, bluefish, and spiny dogfish) both organizations have decided to collaborate on this project. All observers are deployed on commercial vessels that utilize small mesh otter trawls in state and federal waters of the Mid-Atlantic and Rhode Island.  The Observer Program for the Mid-Atlantic and Rhode Island contracts sea days from the NOAA Fisheries Northeast Fishery Observer Program (NEFOP) and then takes single or multi-day trips each month throughout the year. The days and time periods are adjusted by region to ensure that observer coverage is effectively applied to species of interest. The observers document the discards and collect biosamples from species of interest, which include river herring, scup, weakfish, croaker, bluefish, black sea bass, summer flounder, and spiny dogfish. All of these species are identified in the upper quartile of the ACCSP Biological Matrix.

The collected specimens are sexed, enumerated, measured, and weighed in accordance to the NEFOP protocols, and the data are submitted in compliance to ACCSP guidelines. Besides collecting biological data from samples, the observers also extract age structures. After 90 days, the data that observers collect are uploaded to the NEFOP database and then made available to ACCSP at the end of each year. Through August 2013, there have been approximately 2700 scale and 600 otolith samples collected from various species of interest which give insight to the age structure of each population.  In summer 2013, a fish ageing specialist was hired at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science to process all of the samples since 2011. 2014 marks the fourth year of operation which has been running smoothly, with 253 sea days anticipated for the entirety of the fiscal year.

A preliminary sample size analyses (Wigley et al. 2013) of additional sea days provided by this observer program (beyond the NEFOP-funded days) indicate that the increased number of trips improved precision for four species groups: summer flounder/scup/black sea bass, squid/butterfish/mackerel, small mesh groundfish, and large mesh groundfish.

The greatest benefit that the ASMFC/MAMFC Observer Program provides is the biological information obtained from the discards of commercial fisheries. This supplies stock assessment scientists and fisheries managers with more precise data that can be utilized to enhance modeling and decision-making across the Mid-Atlantic region.

Other benefits from this project include:

  • Obtaining discard and biological information is critical to adequately characterize the quantity, length, and age compositions of fishery catches that can subsequently be used in stock assessments;
  • The catch and effort data obtained from these trips are supplied to the appropriate partner(s) to be able to validate vessel and landings information;
  • A multi-state or regional program is the best approach to address observer coverage needs, given the transient nature of vessels involved in many fisheries; and
  • A regional program also promotes consistency in data collection and utilization in coastwide stock assessments.

Image (c) ASMFC

Location and Contact Information

Address Phone / Fax Email Website
    • 1050 N. Highland Street
    • Suite 200A-N
    • Arlington, VA 22201
    • 703.842.0740
info@asmfc.org
www.asmfc.org/

Featured On-the-Ground Project

Observer Program for Small Mesh Otter Trawl Fishery in the Mid-Atlantic (New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia) and Rhode Island

The ASMFC through its Management and Science Committee and Interstate Fisheries Management Program (ISFMP) Policy Board developed a list of coastwide critical research priorities identifying the need for at-sea observer data on discards, age/length samples, and catch/effort data. In addition, a recurring high priority recommendation from stock assessments and FMPs for several species managed by the ASMFC is to increase at-sea observer coverage to obtain commercial discard and associated biological data. This project was created to address these issues and collect biological and discard data for commercially and recreationally important species from the small mesh otter trawl fisheries in the Mid-Atlantic region (New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia) and Rhode Island using at-sea observers. 

This ongoing project has been supported by ACCSP since 2011. Because many of the primary species taken in small-mesh trawl fisheries are co-managed by ASMFC and MAFMC (i.e., black sea bass, scup, summer flounder, bluefish, and spiny dogfish) both organizations have decided to collaborate on this project. All observers are deployed on commercial vessels that utilize small mesh otter trawls in state and federal waters of the Mid-Atlantic and Rhode Island.  The Observer Program for the Mid-Atlantic and Rhode Island contracts sea days from the NOAA Fisheries Northeast Fishery Observer Program (NEFOP) and then takes single or multi-day trips each month throughout the year. The days and time periods are adjusted by region to ensure that observer coverage is effectively applied to species of interest. The observers document the discards and collect biosamples from species of interest, which include river herring, scup, weakfish, croaker, bluefish, black sea bass, summer flounder, and spiny dogfish. All of these species are identified in the upper quartile of the ACCSP Biological Matrix.

The collected specimens are sexed, enumerated, measured, and weighed in accordance to the NEFOP protocols, and the data are submitted in compliance to ACCSP guidelines. Besides collecting biological data from samples, the observers also extract age structures. After 90 days, the data that observers collect are uploaded to the NEFOP database and then made available to ACCSP at the end of each year. Through August 2013, there have been approximately 2700 scale and 600 otolith samples collected from various species of interest which give insight to the age structure of each population.  In summer 2013, a fish ageing specialist was hired at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science to process all of the samples since 2011. 2014 marks the fourth year of operation which has been running smoothly, with 253 sea days anticipated for the entirety of the fiscal year.

A preliminary sample size analyses (Wigley et al. 2013) of additional sea days provided by this observer program (beyond the NEFOP-funded days) indicate that the increased number of trips improved precision for four species groups: summer flounder/scup/black sea bass, squid/butterfish/mackerel, small mesh groundfish, and large mesh groundfish.

The greatest benefit that the ASMFC/MAMFC Observer Program provides is the biological information obtained from the discards of commercial fisheries. This supplies stock assessment scientists and fisheries managers with more precise data that can be utilized to enhance modeling and decision-making across the Mid-Atlantic region.

Other benefits from this project include:

  • Obtaining discard and biological information is critical to adequately characterize the quantity, length, and age compositions of fishery catches that can subsequently be used in stock assessments;
  • The catch and effort data obtained from these trips are supplied to the appropriate partner(s) to be able to validate vessel and landings information;
  • A multi-state or regional program is the best approach to address observer coverage needs, given the transient nature of vessels involved in many fisheries; and
  • A regional program also promotes consistency in data collection and utilization in coastwide stock assessments.

Image (c) ASMFC